He spoke to me as though I was, by some miraculous transformation, a human being. In that first year on campus, I was banned from a mandatory class for complaining loudly that I expected the teacher to speak English at least as well as my terrible French.
Gage, had no trouble with the course, and did well in it, although I remained an inconspicuous student. Ralph James, former head of the mathematics department, recalled two occasions when Walter Gage took a day off from work at UBC.
I needed some time to recover the next day, but Walter was out at UBC at his usual early hour doing what he loved best. And right there in his office I found what so many others, thousands, found in the presence of Walter Gage.
An odd trust, the latter, because he personally often went broke between paydays. In the cozy UBC of the immediate pre-war period, nearly everyone knew everyone else.
I followed that good advice and had the pleasure and benefit of another year of his astute and perceptive teaching. He gestured me to sit down, got up from his desk, and sat down near me.
He taught so much more than math. He was an outstanding teacher and drew students to him; there were about 50 of us in his class. There Walter recalled that a former student of his had come from Hedley now an abandoned mining town.
I had to prove that I was a poor student as well as a good one. Lunch-hour pep rallies gave boisterous life to the halls of Craigdarroch — Walter leading with an enthusiasm that at time left him fizzing at the mouth.
With no particular destination in mind we started early in the morning for Hope and then went on to Princeton. My parents were fortunately able to cover the shortfall.
On impulse, the Groper visited Craigdarroch Castle, then makeshifting as Victoria College, and enrolled as a student to give it a try for the one term he could afford.
Somewhere along the way I was invited to meet Dean Gage to discuss my loan application. I was so badly off that the only pair of shoes I owned had worn through and I was walking on cardboard, which is hell, considering how wet UBC can be by December.
In a way no other professor attempted, Walter altered the tone of the College. He was particularly dedicated to developing financial aid programs and went out of his way to help students in need, often from his own pocket.UBC. The University of British Columbia.
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